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Preseason Match Recap: Leeds run out victorious over Forest Green Rovers 2-1 in preseason

The Marcelo Bielsa era started well for Leeds

Derby County v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Leeds United scored a pair of first half goals, missed a number of second half chances to score a few more goals, and allowed a goal right before half-time in the first preseason match of the season. The movement and pressing in the first half were everything that we were told to expect from a Bielsa team, and while the players seemed to lose steam in the second half, this was a promising start to the 2018-19 season.

Leeds started out the match in what appeared to be a 4-1-4-1 formation, but with all the movement, it really seemed to be more of a formation that featured two centrebacks, a holding midfielder (Phillips) who had license to roam, and a lone striker up top, with plenty of overlapping runs and fluid movement with the rest of the team. It was hard, therefore, to precisely put a finger on what exact formation the team played.

The first ten minutes or so featured a number of chances for Kemar Roofe up top as Leeds looked to exploit the team’s pace and ability on the ball to drive the ball forward into dangerous areas. Leeds had a number of quality crosses into the box that Roofe was very close to getting either his boot or head to.

Leeds looked a little disjointed at times during the first few minutes as well, but that was to be expected with this being the first preseason match of the year and a new manager trying to install a new system.

Kemar Roofe scored the first goal of the Marcelo Bielsa era from a corner kick that Gjanni Alioski headed down to Roofe in front of the net, and an unmarked Roofe made no mistake.

Leeds defended well on a corner kick and after a free kick in a decent location, but Leeds was almost always in control of the ball and the match.

Leeds doubled their lead in the 25th minute. Luke Ayling was able to put the ball into the back of the net after he was left almost all alone in the box after Roofe picked him out. Good build up and tactics from Leeds.

The movement and pressing were absolutely something to behold in the first half. Leeds pressed the ball whenever possession was lost in the first half and the team was always looking to get forward and get the ball into the box.

Forest Green got back into the match after Leeds fell asleep at the end of the first half and Dayle Brubb took advantage and scored an absolute cracker of a goal. Bailey Peacock-Farrell got his hands to the ball and perhaps should have done better to stop it, but Grubb had all the time in the world to line up his shot.

No changes at half-time for Leeds, and they seemed to start the second half as the first half ended, with more pressing and fluid football on display. Leeds won a few corners in a row in the first five minutes, but despite some good pressure, weren’t able to convert any clear chances.

Alioski just missed on an extremely good chance in the 53rd minute as he waited to take the shot on his left foot, only to have the Forest Green keeper adjust and stop the shot. Roofe went down in the box and while there were appeals for a penalty, the ref largely ignored the Leeds players and allowed play to carry on.

Forest Green got a chance to draw level in the 66th minute, but Peacock-Farrell was able to stop the shot. Leeds looked to slow down a little bit later in the match as fatigue started to set in, but the passing was still crisp.

Leeds seemed to resume shooting practice at the Forest Green keeper, who did well to keep out a Forshaw shot, while Roofe missed a easy header and both Forshaw and Saiz tried to chip the ball over the keeper without success.

A few more chances were traded, but both teams started to tire as the match wore on, meaning that the quality of play seemed to slip as the team went on.

So all’s well that ends well, with no goals in the second half, meaning that Leeds fairly comfortably won their first preseason match. Plenty for the manager to work on, as the team switched off and allowed an easy goal at the end of the match, and the finishing needs work, as if Leeds had done even a little better at scoring goals, the match would have been much more comfortable for the club.